Reason for Being: Annemarie O'Sullivan

Annemarie O'Sullivan

The birds are singing their hearts out. They seem to have no inkling about what’s in the news. There’s plenty to savour in the trees, with blackbirds in full song and wagtails wagging like mad. So, while the skies are quieter and the traffic almost silenced, I’m taking comfort in the natural cycle of the seasons.

For the last few years Tom and I have been building ourselves a life; we have lived in a soggy house, a tent, a very second-hand caravan while we gather resources to renovate our home. We’re used to keeping things simple. Over time, this place has become our dream home as well as a hive of industry.

In the last week, every sock in the house has been darned, and jeans which might have gone in the recycling have been patched by Tom, excitedly using the sewing machine for the first time in his life. There’s no doubt that there’ll be a new normal after this lockdown is over.

Work in the studio continues at a gentle pace. Nothing is urgent. Domestic life takes precedence. It’s certainly less busy here without our lovely team to work with us. I miss them; however, the space is filled by our two teenagers, exams cancelled, futures uncertain.

In the kitchen, window sills are filled with trays of hopeful seedlings reaching up towards the light. On the counter our fermented foods: kefir, kombucha, Kim-chi all need to be tended like a little garden. Each morning we push the kitchen table aside and follow the ‘PE with Joe’ You Tube workout. Later cakes are baked; cards are played. Wild garlic is gathered by the river during our government approved evening exercise.

Outside our house, bolts of bright willow stand drying in the sun. They are an invitation to weave as many baskets as I can. I am a wonderstruck 5-year-old when I see the willow we have harvested each year. I’m always filled with gratitude when my daily tasks involve anything that is to do with growing. And so, I share my time between the studio, the garden and the kitchen. A perfect balance.

I’m filled with optimism to see so much generosity and kindness in this country and across the world. It is almost as if a page has been turned and we are invited to connect with each other in a much kinder way. I think of the land I came from and how much things have changed since I was a runaway teenager, attitudes shifted, institutions dissolved. If I could have seen into the future and known such change was possible, I would have been filled with hope about the future.

Right now, I’m enjoying a simpler existence. Maybe that’s what’s in store for all of us. Welcome new time. I’m not going to battle you. I’m going to see what opportunities and gifts you have to share with us all.

This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall, Until the bitter weather passes (John O’Donohue, 2008).

Annemarie O'Sullivan, Basketmaker
Reason for Being

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